The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

BE­FORE HER TIME

- 33

that you get a glimpse of the Queen as a woman.

It may be hard to see in the wiz­ened geri­atrics of to­day, but El­iz­a­beth and Philip were the golden cou­ple of the 1940s, lithe and beau­ti­ful and very much in love, with an easy rap­port that had a very mod­ern equi­lib­rium. They re­main in ev­ery sense a team of two.

Charles, on the other hand, is a slow learner, who took half a life­time fi­nally to achieve a happy union, with the mistress who had caused Diana so much pain, Camilla Parker-Bowles. If the Queen lives another decade, as her own mother did, then Charles will be 76 if he is crowned King, hardly an age to learn a new job, or in­ject fresh vigour into the monar­chy.

His mother took the throne as a 25-year-old with two chil­dren on the death of her beloved fa­ther in 1952.

She grew as she laboured to learn how to carry such a bur­den of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

But Prince Wil­liam, now a steady 33-yearold, is the per­fect age to as­cend. If the crown were to skip a gen­er­a­tion, he would be young enough to breathe new life into the monar­chy, but old enough to have de­vel­oped wis­dom.

For one thing, he has al­ready shown bet­ter judg­ment than his fa­ther in the most im­por­tant de­ci­sion of his life — choos­ing a wife. Kate Mid­dle­ton is no less ad­mirable as a fu­ture Queen than El­iz­a­beth II her­self.

1. Birth­day greet­ings:

Queen El­iz­a­beth II in 2006 with some of her 80th birth­day cards at Buck­ing­ham Palace. Pic­ture: AFP Photo/Fiona Han­son

Baby Princess El­iz­a­beth with her grand­mother Queen Mary.

2. Fam­ily snap:

3. Kiss for a Queen:

Prince Charles kisses his mother’s hand at her Diamond Ju­bilee con­cert in Lon­don in June, 2012. Pic­ture: AFP Photo/Leon Neal

The Queen, with Prince Ed­ward stand­ing on her left, watches the sec­ond day of rac­ing at the Ep­som Derby fes­ti­val in June, 2012. Pic­ture: AFP Photo

The Queen Mother with daugh­ters Queen El­iz­a­beth II and Princess Mar­garet cel­e­brat­ing her 80th birth­day at Wind­sor in 1980 in match­ing blue satin. Pic­ture: Nor­man Parkin­son

4. Derby Day:

5. Spare heir:

6. Chivalry reigns:

The Queen ar­rives at St Ge­orge’s Chapel, Wind­sor Castle, in June, 2005, for the an­nual Ser­vice for The Or­der of the Garter. Pic­ture: AFP Photo/An­drew Par­sons

Renowned for her love of an­i­mals, es­pe­cially cor­gis, the Queen couldn’t re­sist pet­ting a pooch while out and about in May, 1998. Pic­ture: AP

7. Re­gal touch:

So let us celebrate the Queen’s long reign and pay trib­ute to the in­domitable char­ac­ter of a woman be­fore her time, as well as to the hus­band who has been by her side all the way.

But when her reign is over, let us also ac­knowl­edge that Wil­liam and Kate are the suc­ces­sors most wor­thy, and leave Charles to play the role of dot­ing grandpa. Un­less you are a repub­li­can, of course, in which case you should be bar­rack­ing for King Charles.

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